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Mahanoy’s sharpshooters leave Sacred Heart behind

BETHLEHEM >> Mahanoy Area is a team with plenty of defensive bite, and, as Sacred Heart coach Zach Shuler put it, “can shoot from the parking lot.”

The way the Golden Bears came out taking the ball away with regularity and hitting from deep made it too steep a climb for the Lions at Freedom High Tuesday, as Mahanoy beat Sacred Heart, 58-32 in the PIAA Class 2A playoffs.

“They are really good defenders, well-rounded,” Lions junior Kyra Quigley said of the District 11’s Golden Bears. “They knew where to help and when to help, and they’re just smart basketball players.”

Quigley scored a team-high 12 points for the Lions, the District 1 Champs who finished their season at 15-11.

The win sends Mahanoy to the state quarterfinals, to take on West Catholic. The Golden Bears had four players reach double figures in the victory over Sacred Heart.

“They have a number of players who can spread the floor and drive to the basket, and they can shoot the lights out, so we knew coming in they were a strong team,” Shuler said. “They’re a very confident group. They play aggressive. They feed off their defense, and just about every one of them can shoot the three.”

Things started off well for the Lions when Kayleigh Doyle hit from deep, quickly providing a 3-0 lead.

But Mahanoy Area would counter with a 16-0 run to take over the contest.

Jordan Karmonick’s reverse layup provided the first points for the Golden Bears, and moments later Megan Bisco buried a short jumper to put Mahanoy Area in front for good.

Madison Cavenas scored down low, as all aspects of the Golden Bear offense were starting to operate. Karmonick and Bisco did the most damage early for Mahanoy, with Karmonick hitting a three to stretch the lead.

It was 16-3 Golden Bears until Quigley ended the scoring drought for the Lions, cutting the margin to 11. Mahanoy would extend to a 19-5 advantage by the end of the first quarter.

With Bisco hitting a pair of threes, Mahanoy was pulling away. Abbey McGee got involved in the second quarter, taking it hard to the hoop for a three-point play, and Karmonick’s jumper was good again, helping to make it 28-10 Golden Bears at the half.

Quigley had a strong second half for the Lions, scoring nine of her 12.

“It was exciting,” Quigley said of the postseason run. “We definitely wanted to go further but there’s definitely nothing wrong with getting this far and I think it reflects with how hard we worked.”

The Lions, who won four games two seasons ago, came a long way.

“I’m proud of our team. They played hard throughout. They gave a fight here, especially in the second half,” Shuler said. “We’ll have four starters coming back next season and even though it’s going to be tough to replace the seniors, I believe that these players are ready to step up and take the leadership role and continue what we’ve built.”

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